Who Will Manuel Take to the All-Star Game?
As manager of the National League All-Star team, he makes eight selections to the 33-player roster. And he made no bones before tonight’s game against the Braves that he is partial to his own players.
“I’ll be the first guy to tell you that,” he said. “Everything that I’ve gotten out of us winning … I’ve got a World Series ring, and everything I’ve got was because our guys played good and they won. If you want to call me a player’s manager, I think I am because I think the players definitely have everything to do with it. I think good players make a good manager. I think good players can play over some of the mistakes a manager can make.”
We know Raul Ibanez and Chase Utley will be starters at their respective positions. They have commanding leads in fan voting.
But which other Phillies could go?
“If you ask me who I would vote for or pick, anytime I could pick one of my players definitely I’m in favor of that,” Manuel said. “But at the same time, when you look at things, you have to be fair to the game and also the guy who is having a big year. That can be hard to because there are so many.”
I’ve heard some talk that Manuel should pick Cole Hamels (4-5, 4.98 ERA), Brad Lidge (0-3, 7.57 ERA and 14 saves) or Jamie Moyer (6-6, 6.05 ERA) for their contributions last season, when the Phillies won the World Series. I don’t expect that to happen at all. Manuel would love to pick a few Phillies, but it would be impossible to sell Hamels, Lidge or Moyer with home-field advantage in the World Series on the line.
So when then?
I think Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino are legitimate possibilities.
Howard is hitting .256 with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs. He is tied for second in the NL with 41 extra-base hits. He is third in RBIs and go-ahead RBIs (19) and tied for third in game-winning RBIs (nine). He is fifth in home runs. He is from St. Louis, where the All-Star Game will be played July 14. He has been one of baseball’s best run producers in recent seasons. He has meant the world to Manuel in the middle of his lineup.
But Howard has some stiff competition at first base. Albert Pujols (.337, 30 homers and 77 RBIs) will be the starter. Prince Fielder (.306, 20, 74) has to go. Adrian Gonzalez (.268, 24, 48) and Todd Helton (.312, 9, 53) are legitimate candidates. There are others, too. There are only so many first basemen Manuel can take, which puts Howard in a numbers crunch. It will be interesting to see which way Manuel goes.
Victorino is hitting .295 with five homers, 34 RBIs and 13 stolen bases. He is tied for second in triples (five), tied for fourth in runs (52) and tied for ninth in hits (89) and stolen bases. Obviously, there are plenty of outfielders with better power numbers than Victorino, but Victorino is not a power hitter. He is a speed guy, who plays great defense and can hit. He might be an easier case for Manuel to make.
Third baseman Pedro Feliz has had a nice season, but he also appears to be in a numbers crunch with David Wright, Ryan Zimmerman, Mark Reynolds, Casey Blake and others.
Jimmy Rollins snapped his career-worst 0-for-28 slump with a single to right field in the third inning. Rollins also singled in the fifth.